Not even the cool, wet, cloudy New England spring weather could dampen spirits at the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Boston last month. National troubles were largely bypassed as participants exulted over evangelical progress in the last decade and honored retirement-bound general director Clyde W. Taylor.

Setting the tone, Illinois congressman John B. Anderson—fresh from the Watergate-charged atmosphere of Capitol Hill—stressed evangelical church and mission growth with only passing references to Watergate and its ilk. Anderson, an Evangelical Free Church member, delighted the nearly 750 delegates with his tongue-in-cheek assessment of the contrasting positions of evangelicals and liberals today. Once, he said, “they [the liberals] were the beautiful people and we—you will recall—were the kooks.” Changing times, however, find evangelical seminaries and churches growing while liberal institutions are declining, he said.

Picking up the theme was outgoing NAE president Myron C. Boyd, a Free Methodist, who reported that more than 25,000 evangelically oriented missionaries are active worldwide, nearly 7,000 hours of evangelical radio and TV programs are broadcast to North Americans weekly, and more than seventy-five evangelical missionary broadcast stations operate around the world. Most people, he said, “are unaware of all that is being done in the world by evangelicals.”

The delegates did approve a five-page statement of concerns, and former president Harold J. Ockenga said publicly and privately that Watergate had weakened the American image. After pinpointing problem areas, including corruption on national, local, and personal levels, the delegates warned against dissipation of “evangelistic and missionary passion” and called for support of the forthcoming world evangelization congress in Lausanne, Switzerland. They also asked for support of the national day of humiliation, prayer, and fasting, held a few days later, and called for member churches to set aside the last day of each month as a day of prayer for the nation.

There was a recognition, too, that in seeking cooperation among evangelicals, the NAE must find those of like mind among mainline Protestant churches. That, says executive committee member Bob Dugan, may be the hinge on which the NAE swings in the future. Without active participation by evangelicals in non-NAE-related churches, NAE growth could be stunted, says Dugan, a Conservative Baptist pastor in Colorado. Already, some staunch evangelical mainliners are active in the NAE. (One of these is United Presbyterian John Huffman, whose Easter sermon on sin in hidden corners gained him national attention when President Nixon attended his Key Biscayne, Florida, church last year. Huffman has since moved to Pittsburgh.)

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Meeting in Boston with the NAE were its affiliate associations, and they too were projecting bright pictures. The Evangelical Foreign Missions Association—one of the largest affiliates—reported a membership of sixty-nine mission organizations with a combined budget of $70 million supporting some 8,000 missionaries. EFMA spent the time studying the mass media with an eye toward increasing cooperation in media outreach. EFMA delegates heard results of a study by students of Wheaton College’s graduate communications course showing that about 20 per cent of all mission personnel were involved in some form of media work (EFMA has some radio and print missions as members); that they majored in books dealing with church growth and Bible study rather than evangelism (newspapers and magazines ran a close second); and that they rarely did market studies to see if their message was getting through. The study also showed that religious material was the prime product with education and information running second, and news, sports, entertainment, and cultural activities of minimal importance. Some study recommendations: upgrade news, education, and information services, and start making market studies.

Other affiliates plugged holes on executive boards and charged new drives for 1974. The World Relief Commission—overseas relief arm of the NAE—pled for more and bigger donations from NAE members (3.5 million of them in 36,000 churches) to meet the costs of relief efforts in Sahel Africa, Bangladesh, and India. Of the nearly $1 million raised last year, two-thirds came from non-NAE members, WRC officials said. The WRC will also start acting as a transmittal agency for domestic relief, said executive vice-president Everett S. Graffam (he was named 1974 Layman of the Year by the NAE). Graffam stressed that the WRC would not be involved in domestic relief efforts but would channel monies to the appropriate agencies.

Meanwhile new board members were selected for the National Association of Christian Schools to replace those who quit when efforts to take the NACS out of the NAE failed last fall (see following story). The new board is expected to select a new director next month.

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The Boston convention was the last for outgoing general director Clyde Taylor, who plans to retire at the end of the year. The final banquet was turned into a tribute night for Taylor’s thirty years of NAE service (besides heading the NAE he directs its Washington, D. C., public affairs office and is also executive secretary of the EFMA) and was marked with live and taped tributes from evangelical leaders, including a leather-bound book of letters from more than 300 church leaders around the world. While laying down his NAE hats, Taylor will remain as executive secretary of the World Evangelical Fellowship.

Pastor Paul E. Toms, of Park Street Congregational Church in Boston, was elected president of the NAE for a two-year term.

The Boston convention was, for most delegates, a time of reflection on evangelical advances and successes coupled with warnings against complacency. Indeed, many seemed inclined toward an attitude like that of Washington Redskins football coach George Allen: for evangelicals, “the future is now.”

Jumping Ship?

While members of the National Association of Evangelicals contemplated the bright evangelical picture (see preceding story), the NAE boat itself was rocking as some of its affiliates considered jumping ship.

Leading the independence movement was the National Association of Christian Schools, which last year sought release from its affiliate status with the NAE. Not far behind was the board of the National Sunday School Association, which approved a similar request but which has yet, apparently, to forward that request to the NAE.

The NACS (composed of 257 Christian day schools) requested the release early last year. Stephen Shoe, NACS administrative assistant, said member schools were upset over NAE statements that they felt did not reflect their schools’ positions. For example, NACS members were irked by the NAE’s support of the prayer amendment because they were not consulted. (NAE officials said the issue involved public, not private, Christian schools.) Shoe described the NAE-NACS differences as primarily “theological and ideological.” Apparently several of the schools had difficulty explaining NAE actions and their own connection with the NAE to their constituents. ‘They got tired of fighting NAE’s battles,” he said.

Roy Lowrie, former NACS executive director, said the board first discussed independence in March, 1973, and was given to understand by NAE representatives that independence would eventually be granted. By October, however, the NAE had firmed its position and nixed the idea. Board members quit only because an NAE representative suggested they should if they felt strongly about the issue, Lowrie said. In all, sixteen of the eighteen board members including Lowrie did so. Lowrie has since formed a rival organization, the National Christian Schools Education Association. He is reluctant to discuss the NACS matter except to say that relations with NAE leaders remain amicable and that the affair was handled “quietly and prayerfully.”

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The troubles cost the NACS some members. From a high of 375 in 1972 and 308 last year, the membership now stands at 257. In all, 120 schools dropped NACS membership last year, though seventy new ones joined.

Other NAE affiliates have looked into independence. Ben Armstrong, executive secretary of the National Religious Broadcasters, confirmed it had been discussed by NRB members, though not by the executive committee. The advantages of NAE ties outweighed the disadvantages, he said.

Meanwhile, the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association solidified its NAE ties in Boston last month by requiring that all future bylaw and constitutional changes be approved by the NAE administration board and that reports on finances and actions be given to the board annually. Said EFMA officials: If members were contemplating change, word hadn’t reached them.

A Home For C. S. Lewis

When former White House Special Counsel Charles W. Colson—one of those indicted in the Watergate affair—revealed just before Christmas that he had become a Christian, he said one of the catalysts had been C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity (see January 4 issue, page 49). “Arrogance was the great sin of Watergate, the great sin of a lot of us—that was the chapter in Lewis’s book that had the greatest impact,” Colson said in an interview.

For years, evangelical Christians, intellectuals, and the literate knew that Clive Staples Lewis, a British scholar who was one of the world’s experts on medieval and Renaissance literature, was also one of the twentieth century’s greatest Christian thinkers. Wheaton College near Chicago has become the repository of much of the world’s knowledge about Lewis. It and the Bodleian Library at Oxford in England are the leading centers for serious Lewis study. Wheaton literature professor Clyde S. Kilby started the Lewis collection in 1965. His project to cement Wheaton’s claim has been aided by a recent $200,000 memorial to the late Lewis devotee Marion E. Wade, founder and chairman of ServiceMaster, Inc., a Chicago business firm.

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Kilby has expanded the Lewis collection to include the works of other Christian literary luminaries: Charles Williams, J. R. R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, George Macdonald, Dorothy Sayers, and G. K. Chesterton. Lewis was the close friend of Williams, Tolkien, and Barfield, and they all belonged to “The Inklings,” a small circle of writers at Oxford who met weekly to read one another’s manuscripts and to discuss literary and Christian topics. Dorothy Sayers was a friend of Lewis and others. Macdonald was a nineteenth-century author, Chesterton, a well-known twentieth-century writer of essays, poems, and fiction.

Most of these writers used fantasy to portray Christianity. Macdonald wrote children’s books. Sayers and Chesterton wrote detective stories. Barfield, a retired London attorney, wrote with a philosophical bent. Lewis wrote for children, scholars, and Christians, and he has even been called “the apostle to the atheist.”

Kilby, a balding, bespectacled, slightly rotund scholar who bears a slight resemblance to Lewis, is well on the way to his objective of acquiring first editions of all of their works and all significant books and articles dealing with them. Wheaton now has photographs from almost every year of Lewis’s Jife and 850 Lewis letters, including a batch to his late brother Warren, a close friend of Kilby’s who bequeathed them to the college. In the collection are several recordings Lewis made for the British Broadcasting Corporation; to be added soon is a recording in which Colson tells of Lewis’s impact on his life.

The collection is currently housed in Wheaton’s old Blanchard Hall, but for permanent quarters Kilby hopes to build a replica of Lewis’s house on a site to the rear of Edman Chapel, adjacent to the newly planned library of Billy Graham papers on the crowded campus. Wade’s memorial will provide a big initial step toward its construction, on which Kilby has set a price tag of $600,000 and a target date of 1980.


Observing The Day

In the end lacking a congressional proclamation and without much fanfare in the press, millions of Americans nevertheless in some way observed April 30 as a national day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of churches across the nation were open for day-long prayer vigils, and many conducted public services. The nation’s Catholic bishops voiced their support, and Metropolitan Ireney, primate of the one-million-member Orthodox Church in America, instructed his congregation to participate.

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One of the big surprises, said Republican Senator Mark Hatfield (he got the Senate to pass a resolution endorsing the special-day proclamation but it got buried in the House Judiciary Committee), was the interest and leadership given to the observance by evangelicals and the comparative lack of interest shown by liberals “who usually go in for things like this.”

Campus Crusade for Christ engaged in a nationwide effort to promote the day. In Washington, D. C., Crusade staffers distributed 70,000 leaflets to churches and other groups urging observance of the day, and they sponsored a prayer vigil on the mall in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial (see photos). Spiritual-life director Thomas Carruth of Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, rented a wide-area telephone line; he and others succeeded in persuading at least thirty-five state governors to proclaim the day. He worked in close association with Ohio evangelist Geraldine Conway and Leadership Foundation, a pro-morality group in Washington headed by former TV personality Martha Rountree. Several street evangelists demonstrated near the White House, wearing sackcloth and ashes. Scores of government employees gathered in lunch-time groups for prayer.

Black clergyman David L. Gray, national chairman of the United Prayer Movement, sponsored an inter-religious service attended by 2,000 at the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, Missouri, and evangelicals—including separatists known in the past for their opposition to sharing a platform with non-separatists—were among the key speakers.

Hatfield himself took the day off and spoke to a lunch-hour audience of 350 or so at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington. He stressed the need that exists in both personal and corporate life to confess error and to turn to God. Earlier in the day Senate chaplain Edward L. R. Elson mentioned the observance, sparking comment on the Senate floor. “There is a great need to repent, to seek God’s guidance,” said Democrat senator Harold Hughes of Iowa, who plans to enter full-time Christian work in January. “We have come to rely more on bitterness and hatred than on love for our fellow man.” Senator Barry Goldwater said he couldn’t agree if “there is to be any suggestion that we as a nation and people should feel humiliated.” Democrat Senator Lawton Chiles replied that the resolution was intended to make Americans “show a little humility before the Creator,” not to make them feel ashamed of their country. A group of senators who regularly meet for a prayer breakfast each Wednesday had lunch together to discuss ideas raised by the resolution.

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That night at an inter-religious service attended by about 200 in the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (where President Abraham Lincoln sometimes worshiped), Republican congressman Paul McCloskey of California called on Americans to “tithe” their time; the national sins that led so many to feel a national day of repentance was necessary might not have been committed if citizens spent 10 per cent of their time working in government at local, state, or national levels.

The idea for a special day originated when a California friend of Washington interior decorator Ray Bates, a member of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship, showed him a proclamation for April 30, 1863, by President Lincoln. A printer friend in Washington ran off some copies for Bates. Bates showed a copy to Rosemary Woods, President Nixon’s secretary, suggesting it would be well for the President to follow Lincoln’s example and proclaim a special day. Meanwhile, Hatfield one Sunday found a copy of the Lincoln replica at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Washington. He edited it, deleted Civil War references, adding a section to fit with the times (see February 1 issue, page 28), and pushed it through the Senate.

Honoring The Press

Advice and awards were handed out at annual meetings of the nation’s religious press associations held recently in Denver and Colorado Springs.

The Associated Church Press (ACP), representing 160 periodicals with a total circulation of about 18 million, met jointly with the Catholic Press Association (CPA) in Denver.

First-place ACP awards for general excellence, by category:

General church magazines: Together, a United Methodist monthly succeeded this year by United Methodists Today; magazines of opinion: The Christian Century, an independent ecumenical weekly (CHRISTIANITY TODAY placed second); special audience magazines: Face to Face, a United Methodist monthly; mission magazines: New World Outlook, a joint United Methodist and United Presbyterian monthly; national news journals: (tie) Canadian Churchman, an Anglican monthly, and United Methodist Reporter, a Texas-based weekly; regional news journals: Western Catholic Reporter, a Canadian weekly.

First place in the general magazine category went to U. S. Catholic for the best article (“A Jew Looks at Christmas”), the United Presbyterian edition of A.D. for the best editorial (one that questioned the way the denomination carried out staff reductions), and Together for photography. In the opinion category, first-place awards went to the Reformed Journal for both the best article (on South African apartheid) and the best editorial (on the controversy over action by the Federal Communications Commission involving King’s Garden of Seattle).

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Journalism professor John DeMott of Northern Illinois University, chief judge of the ACP contest, commented that despite financial difficulties the religious press had achieved a new level of professional competence. “The contents of more publications appear to reflect a genuine respect for the reader as a human being trying to fit his faith to the hard realities of everyday living, rather than appearing to regard the reader as a political animal or as a constituent of the church,” he said.

A full-time executive secretary, Dennis E. Shoemaker, a United Presbyterian executive of suburban Philadelphia, was chosen to succeed Alfred P. Klausler, an editor and broadcaster who has served part time since 1961.

The top Catholic press awards went to the National Catholic Reporter, a Kansas City, Missouri, weekly; the Monitor of San Francisco; and the Church World of Portland, Maine.

In Colorado Springs nearly 200 attended the 26th annual Evangelical Press Association (EPA), which represents 190 publications. EPA president Peter Meeuwsen of The Banner, a Christian Reformed Church publication, and EPA executive secretary Norman Rohrer reported that membership, interest, and finances were up. But postage costs are up too, warned postal service watcher Russell Hitt, of Eternity magazine.

Awards for excellence were given in “Periodical of the Year” and “Higher Goals” contests. Youth Alive (Assemblies of God) won top place in the periodical competition. First place awards, by category, included: general, CHRISTIANITY TODAY; denominational, The Church Herald (Reformed Church in America); missionary, World Vision.

There were seventeen Higher Goals categories; first-place winners included: poetry, CHRISTIANITY TODAY (“A Conversion” by Eugene Warren); news, CHRISTIANITY TODAY (“Underground Evangelism: The Rumors That Won’t Go Away” by Edward E. Plowman); general article, Church Herald; editorial, Wittenburg Door (on death, by Ben Patterson); humor, Eternity (“Funny Birds in the Sanctuary”) by LeRoy Koopman).

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Armstrong Church: Split Decision

One stayed, one quit. So decided two former vice-presidents of Herbert W. and Gamer Ted Armstrong’s beleaguered Worldwide Church of God early this month as about 600 ministers and elders of the sect began pouring into its Pasadena, California, headquarters for what was called “the largest meeting in the history of this work.”

The two men had resigned briefly in late February over doctrinal and administrative grievances, then reconsidered and were ordered to take sixty-day leaves (see March 29 issue, page 44).

For Albert J. Portune, who had been chief financial officer for the 85,000-member WCG until last September, Armstrong strong-armism was too much: “I simply cannot accept the continued accusations against and labeling of dozens of men—whose lives and fruits show they are sincere men of God and love God’s people and have a deep desire to follow the truth of the Bible—as ministers of Satan whose only purpose is to devour the flock for themselves and greedily gain their money.”

Portune’s disenchantment had come gradually; he stepped down from the finance post because, he said, he “didn’t feel clean” about signing checks for things like the two multi-million-dollar jets the Armstrongs lease for worldwide junketing. But Portune, who cast his lot with the splitting Associated Churches of GodPortune said he will soon move to Washington, D.C., where he will be director of evangelism for the Associated Churches of God. Four other executive directors at the Washington headquarters will be Dr. Ernest Martin (chairman of biblical doctrine), Ken Westby, George Kimnetz, and Daniel Porter. that siphoned off thirty-five former WCG ministers and several thousand laymen, was blunter still in his final resignation, spelling out “neglect, errors, continuing oppression … misrepresentations, corruption, and ungodly methods.”

David Antion, former vice-president in charge of church administration, was more sanguine. An Armstrong family member by marriage, Antion repented of his “defeatist attitude,” saying he would now stay because the Armstrongs “desire to bring about understanding and harmony as well as to reconcile any difficulties in a fair and equitable way.” His new duties weren’t perfectly clear. No longer a top officer, he is a teacher at Ambassador College and an evangelist, he said.

Meanwhile, speculation raged over the effect of the whole upheaval on WCG income, which last year averaged $1 million a week. Sources unfriendly to the WCG say income is hurting; officials deny it. But an eighty-seven-page bulletin from Ambassador College’s controller indicated the church intends to sell and lease back three of its large festival sites as part of a massive revision of financial policy.

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The same report outlined budget cuts on “support functions”—schools, transportation, physical plant and grounds at Ambassador’s three locations; the slashes include 27 per cent in academic expenditures and 21 per cent in plant and grounds at Pasadena, where a new $10 million concert hall was dedicated last month. (Two sisters and a young man who “streaked” the ceremony were put on six months’ probation in the first streaking trial in Los Angeles County. Wearing only sneakers and socks, they sprinted past the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and tuxedoed dignitaries.)

The worldwide ministry meetings in Pasadena this month were sure to deal with the WCG crisis, and Stanley Rader, Armstrong legal counsel and chief media spokesman, assured that input would be sought from all on every matter of doctrine and administration. In a radical departure from the past, Rader said WCG officials (below Armstrong rank) will be available to the press in the future. He even hinted that some WCG ministry meetings might be opened to reporters.


Denominations: The Downward Drift

The number of North Americans having some religious affiliation has leveled out at 62.4 per cent, according to an annual tabulation by the National Council of Churches. A total of 131,424,564 members of churches and synagogues, 13.8 million of them in Canada, is reported in the 1974 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, up only 35,000 from the previous tally (the yearbook’s figures are compiled mostly from calendar 1972 statistics). If any trend is shown by the new figures, the NCC said, it is that the older, so-called mainline Protestant denominations continue to lose members while theologically conservative or strongly evangelistic groups are generally gaining.

The report shows 71,648,521 Protestants, 48,640,427 Roman Catholics, 6,115,000 Jews, and 3,739,620 members of Eastern churches. (Included in the Protestant total are Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, non-Protestant groups. The yearbook reports that Mormons registered the largest percentage membership gain—2.5 per cent—of the seventeen largest churches, reaching 2,133,072. The largest decrease was 5 per cent among congregations of the American Baptist Churches, which dropped to 1,484,393.)

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, had a 2 per cent increase, moving to slightly more than 12 million in the period covered by the yearbook. Losses in membership were reported in the American Lutheran Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church, U. S. (Southern), the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the United Church of Christ, the United Presbyterian Church, and the United Methodist Church.

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